Alexander's Column

Sin and Foley

Mark Alexander · Oct. 6, 2006

In the early days of 2001, amid the hasty removal of the letter “W” from White House keyboards and the theft of the presidential china from Air Force One’s galley, the departing President Clinton was busily dispensing no fewer than 176 last-minute presidential pardons to convicted criminals from sea to shining sea. One of these was for Mel Reynolds, a former Democrat congressman from Chicago. Reynolds had been serving a five-year federal sentence for fraudulent-loan and campaign-finance practices, having completed a 30-month sentence for 12 counts of statutory rape of a 16-year-old campaign volunteer.

Clinton pardoned Reynolds at the behest of Jessie Jackson, who then snatched up the sleazy pol to work for his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Of course everybody remembers Bill Clinton’s infamous affair with 21-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky – let’s call that the “Clinton legacy.” Perhaps fewer, though, recall Jackson’s sordid four-year affair with a subordinate, one Karin Stanford, a staffer with Rainbow/PUSH.

So let’s get this straight: A disgraced congressman who’d had sex with a subordinate received a pardon from a disgraced president who’d had sex with a subordinate at the behest of a disgraced clergyman who’d had sex with a subordinate. And what was the Honorable Mel Reynolds’ new position with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition? Youth counselor.

Back to the present. Last week, Mark Foley, the Republican representative of Palm Beach, Florida, resigned when evidence of his homosexual advances toward underage House pages came to light. First, let’s be clear about Foley’s despicable behavior: There’s no excuse for it. For years Foley has made a career as an advocate of children against sexual predators, even authoring the most recent House legislation to that effect. Foley’s instant-message exchanges with the House page in question are graphic and wholly degenerate. If he has broken any laws here – and it is possible he has – we hope that he is prosecuted to the limits of the law, preferably under a law he himself has authored.

Having since checked into a substance-abuse program, and having claimed childhood sexual abuse by a clergyman, Foley has beaten a predictable path to that last refuge of scoundrels: victimhood. On top of this, he seems to be employing the McGreevey Strategy, in which a homosexual who’s been caught doing something irreparably damaging to his political career comes “out of the closet,” gets out of jail free and hits the talk-show circuit to promote a tell-all book.

In Foley’s absence, Washington’s focus turned quickly to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, where a veritable echo chamber keeps repeating, “What did he know, and when did he know it?” No less than the conservative editorial page of the Washington Times has called for Hastert’s resignation. If it becomes evident that Hastert had clear information of Foley’s predatory activities with underage pages, who had essentially been placed in Hastert’s care by their parents, we will support such a call. As The Patriot wrote last week in our condemnation of Bill Clinton as “The Great Prevaricator”, “the alleged wall between a leader’s ‘private virtue’ and his ability to act with ‘public virtue’ is a fiction.” We will offer no subtly couched double standard for Republicans over Democrats on this count.

Nevertheless, a couple of contextual observations may be in order to help put the Foley affair into perspective. First, it is now apparent that both Mark Foley’s homosexuality and his affection for male pages were open secrets in the corridors of Capitol Hill. If House Democrats were truly concerned with the welfare of these young pages, why didn’t they expose Foley long ago? Are we to believe it pure coincidence that Foley’s sins came to light at such a propitious time for the Democrats, just weeks before a crucial midterm election?

Second, Democrats – and their accomplices in the media – apply an outrageous double standard in political sex scandals. When, in 1983, Democrat Rep. Gerry Studds’ homosexual affair with an underage page was publicized, not only did he refuse to apologize, but he also called a press conference in which he appeared side by side with his 17-year-old conquest, defending his act as a “mutually voluntary, private relationship between adults.” Studds was censured, but being from Massachusetts he was re-elected five times. At about the same time, when Republican Rep. Daniel Crane was found to have committed statutory rape with a female page, he too was censured – but voters from Crane’s state of Illinois had the good sense to remove him.

Another fine Democrat of the Massachusetts delegation is the all too out-of-the-closet Rep. Barney Frank, who once employed a live-in call-boy lover named Steve Gobie. Frank paid Gobie $20,000 to work as a personal aide while Gobie, a convicted felon, ran a homosexual-prostitution ring from Frank’s apartment in the 1980s. When the House convened for disciplinary action against Frank in 1990, only two Democrats voted to censure him. In both cases, Democrats controlled the House and failed to act against these most wayward of members, who not only violated the chamber’s ethical standards, but also broke serious laws in so doing.

Space prohibits detailing all the sexual misdeeds of Democrats in recent years, but here are a few: Rep. Fred Richmond, arrested in 1978 for soliciting a 16-year-old girl; Sen. Brock Adams, accused multiple times of drugging, assault and rape beginning in 1988; Rep. Gus Savage, accused of fondling a Peace Corps volunteer during a 1989 African tour; and Sen. Daniel Inouye, accused throughout the 1990s of sexual assault by various women. Then there are Reps. John Young, Wayne Hays and the ever affable Sen. Ted Kennedy – all Democrats involved in sexual escapades under Democrat majorities, all of which went unpunished by their colleagues.

It’s clear, then, that issues of sexual impropriety don’t faze Democrats any more than do serious breaches of national security or selling cocaine from the House Post Office, as happened under the Democrats’ watch in the late 1980s. They see Foley’s folly only as a political opportunity to drive a stake through the heart of the Republican leadership four weeks before the midterm elections. Tellingly enough, Democrats haven’t called for an investigation into Foley’s actions, but they were quick to call for an investigation into Speaker Hastert’s response.

Mark Foley deserves whatever comes his way, and bloodthirsty Democrats may ultimately claim the scalp of the Speaker, but let’s remember the Reynolds-Clinton-Jackson troika before we ascribe even the slightest virtue to their actions.